CDT day 130: Pagosa Springs

September 11
Mileage: 5.5
2,521.5 miles hiked

Today feels like a holiday. I get to eat! Eat! I am ecstatic as I walk to the highway in the warm morning sun. I stop to chat with all the bow hunters on horseback, looking for elk. What a wonderful world!

I’ve been hitching for ten minutes when a rental car pulls over. Inside is a burly white dude with a shaved head, covered in tattoos and listening to metal. This is all well and good, except this dude seems super twitchy, like drugs twitchy. Am I about to have a sketchy experience? Hitchhiking alone as a woman is actually pretty fucking dangerous. Like legitimately so. Hitching with another person is not really dangerous. And if you’re a dude (or if you look like a boy from the side of the road, as I did in my twenties) you’re also less likely to be seen as a potential victim. But hitching alone as a woman- 99.9 percent of people mean well… until you get the one who doesn’t. When I was 21, a friend of my housemate’s was raped and murdered when hitching alone from Portland to Seattle. This is always in the back of my mind when I’m hitching alone, and I wish I didn’t have to do it. But it’s pretty much unavoidable on a long-distance hike, especially if you ever want to hike solo!

This dude, of course, turns out to be totally harmless. He’s just really twitchy and looks like an ex-con. Not that I have anything against ex-cons. I guess it’s just the twitching that I find alarming. The man is headed back to Arizona, for work. He works outside. Manual labor. He’s always done manual labor. My heart softens. He’s Dude In A Pickup Truck, only in a rental car! I didn’t recognize him without his truck. Patron saint of hitchhikers!

Pagosa Springs is a bit of an anti-climax, but then I’m not sure what I was expecting. It’s pretty spread out, and manages to be touristy and rundown at the same time. Straddling the line, like many small Colorado towns. I eat yellow curry in an asian restaurant and drink green tea. I order their house-made kimchi. Everything just tastes like salt. Then a cheap hotel room with its 1970s furnishings, awkward showerhead and thin walls letting in all the street sounds. Resupply in the small supermarket with no hippie icecream but a whole half-aisle of novena candles. I wish I had somewhere to put novena candles, I would buy a dozen. The sacred heart. St. Francis of Assisi. Money luck.

Dinner is tacos at the place next door- they’re actually really good. I’m still hungry back in my room so I eat GF toaster waffles. Only 69 miles until Cumbres pass, where I’ll reconnect with my footsteps headed north. And then… I’m done. I’m bringing lots of food- this last section will be a feast!

Photos on instagram